Vincenzo Cesare Dapino was the first commander of the First Motorized Group, a unit of the Italian Royal army that took part in the Battle of Cassino. Moved by his loyalty to the King and his desire to free Italy from the German occupation, he had to overcome many difficulties.
In 1912 the Italian Vincenzo Cesare Dapino was appointed Second Lieutenant of the Alpine troops. He fought in the Libyan war, in the First World War and in the War in Ethiopia. During the Second World War he fought in Albania and was decorated with the Silver Medal for Military Value. Even though some generals considered it a desperate task and refused, Dapino accepted the command of the First Motorized Group, the first brigade of the Italian Royal Army, which participated in the Battle of Cassino under the U.S. 5th Army.
Dapino was moved by his loyalty to the king and his motherland and by his desire to contribute to Italy’s liberation from German occupation. The First Motorized Group consisted of about 5,000 men. After thorough inspections and exercises, the Americans judged the moral and training of the group very high, but their equipment rather poor. The unit bore the heavy responsibility of redeeming the military honour of the Italian Army.
Dapino had to overcome many difficulties. Dapino led the First Motorized Group during the Battle of Monte Lungo. After the battle, which caused heavy losses on Italian side, Dapino appeared physically worn out and was replaced by General Umberto Utili. Vincenzo Dapino was decorated with the Military Order of Savoy and in 1952 he was promoted Lieutenant-General in the reserve.
On 13 October 1943 the Kingdom of Italy declared war on Germany and was recognized as a cobelligerent by the Allies. The Battle of Monte Lungo, that took place between 8 and 16 December 1943, was the first engagement of the Royal Army fighting alongside the Allied forces in Italy.
The military shrine at Mignano Monte Lungo is located at the site of the first battle between the Italian Royal Army and the German army. The cemetery houses the graves of 974 Italian soldiers that fell during the Italian Campaign after Italy joined the Allies in September 1943.
The Polish Military Field of Honour at Monte Cassino holds the graves of 1,052 soldiers of the 2nd Polish Army Corps who died in the Battle of Monte Cassino, fought from 17 January until 18 May 1944. The cemetery also holds the grave of the Polish commander General Anders who died in London in 1970.
The Allied campaign of Monte Cassino was fought in four phases between January and May 1944. The town of Cassino was a key stronghold on the Gustav Line, the German defence line in Central Italy designed to prevent Allied advance towards Rome. The Allies suffered about 55,000 casualties, the Germans 20,000.